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This Freelancer Taught Me the Value of a Good Reputation By Destroying His

3 min read

Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the advertising and design industries for over 15 years.

PROLOGUE: When writing this article, I remembered this story. It happened a while ago, but it seemed like the perfect example of what not to do. I want to show everyone how important it is to foster relationships in the industry. Don't insult people. Don't threaten them.

"BOBBY": If you're reading, reach out to me. Hell, write your own article from your point of view. Maybe I was the asshole. Who knows? That's kinda the point of this.

His first LinkedIn message read, “It’s a small world out there. You won’t be happy to see me again.”

Not something you'd expect a freelancer to tell you...

The tale of "Bobby Butthurt."

While I was at another agency, we hired a freelancer. (His name was not Bobby Butthurt. But we're gonna call him that, because when you make these mistakes, it's gonna bite you in the butt.)

We were working on a pitch. He had worked with us before and seemed pretty good, so we brought him back as support. But this time, things just didn't click. We had to redo his work and it didn't seem like the extra hands were saving us time, so we cut his contract a week short. It happens.

For some reason, he blamed me. (I didn't hire him and I didn't fire him.)

So, that night, he hunted me down on LinkedIn to do some Internet trash-talking.

Yes. A freelancer, whose livelihood is dependent upon people liking him and his work enough to hire and/or recommend him, decided it was not only a good idea to insult me and my work, but to put it in writing. On the internet.

A good reputation will fight your battles when you’re not around.

So, let’s learn from Bobby Butthurt's bad decisions.

Bad Idea #1 - Send Messages While Angry (Think Before You Send)

Bobby was mad when he messaged me. So mad that he made a dumb decision of actually typing out his negative, threatening thoughts and sending them to me.

Think about what you send before you send it.

If you're going to send someone a message, make sure it doesn't have the potential to backfire on you. We all understand frustration, but putting something in writing sticks around. Take an hour, take a breath, go for a walk, and then write out a draft.

Then delete that draft and write out another. And do that a couple of times.

Then send it. Maybe.

Bad Idea #2 - Insult Your Fellow Creatives (Agency vs. Freelancer)

“It's hard to Art Direct another art directors idea, especially when the ideas is less then good.” - Bobby Butthurt

(Excuse the typos. That’s a direct quote. Remember to proofread your messages.)

He’d been freelancing a while, but apparently didn’t realize that executing upon another’s idea is 90% of what a freelancer does. Now, if you openly insult that creative’s idea, to that creative, then that reputation will follow you. Agencies always ask around before hiring freelancers.

A good reputation will fight your battles when you’re not around.

Agency creative vs. freelancer is a struggle that goes on forever. But you want the agency creatives on your side. So, insulting their work is a bad way to do that.

Bad Idea #3 - Threaten People (Don't Spread Bad Mojo)

Bobby made it known to me that he would tell anyone with ears what he thought about me. Go back to “Bad Idea #1.” I made sure every word I wrote back was clear about what happened, not some anger-fueled tantrum.

Don’t spread rumors. It will absolutely bite you in the ass.

It's pretty self-explanatory. Threats don't get anyone anywhere.

Bad decisions can be fixed...sometimes.

Few people hold grudges so long that they can't mend the relationship it destroys. However, it's difficult.

Now, I haven’t crossed Bobby's path since then. But, like he said, it’s a small world out there. The chances of us seeing each other again, or working with someone who has worked with the other person, are pretty damn high.

Burning bridges is a bad idea. Call it karma. Call it The Golden Rule. Good things may pay off, but bad things will absolutely come back to haunt you.

Put good out into the world. It can’t hurt.

Thanks for reading!

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